John Wall Is Officially Back, In Case You Missed It | Wizards Blog Truth About It.net

John Wall Is Officially Back, In Case You Missed It

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Updated: March 31, 2018

https://twitter.com/WashWizards/status/980160472401043458

When Tiger Woods began the latest incarnation of his return from injury, golf enthusiasts, writers and commentators carefully eyed his every move on the golf course. A grimace or the grab of a body part would mean that he wasn’t ready, but a pain-free round or two, a score below par and an extended appearance on any given leaderboard would signify that Tiger was one step closer to officially being back. And while Tiger has yet to win a tournament, let alone a major, he’s flirted with victory a couple times and he nailed this impossibly long putt just let folks know that he was indeed back.

Prior to Scott Brooks announcing that John Wall would return Saturday against the Charlotte Hornets, there was a lack of clear-cut evidence that he was truly back and healthy. Brooks waxed poetic about how hard Wall was practicing, how good he looked and how the coaching staff was putting him through a series of rigorous tests.

Right before the game against the Spurs on Wednesday, Wall could be seen shooting, dunking, running and cutting, and it certainly appeared as if his return was imminent. But no definitive game or date was given for his return—until yesterday.

Wall ran out of the tunnel approximately 90 minutes before the game wearing a red hoodie and headphones. He engaged in two elaborate handshakes with Kelly Oubre (first) and Bradley Beal, and then he proceeded to go through a series of shooting, running and cutting drills. He signed a few autographs, and then he ran back in the tunnel. Wall looked like a man ready to return and lead his team, but he had yet to take the court and prove it against real, live competition.

After the Capital One Arena serenaded him with cheers and a standing ovation during pregame introductions, Wall finally hit the court. His first shot was a 3-pointer that gave the Wizards a 5-0 lead. His first assist came two minutes later when he threw one of his patented pocket passes with precision to a rolling Marcin Gortat, who dunked it with ease.

By the end of the first half, Wall’s shooting touch was understandably non-existent (he was 4-for-9) but he had six assists, no turnovers, and everyone was eating—but none of that mattered. The Wizards found themselves trailing 51-50, despite the fact that Kemba Walker had gone scoreless.

If this were earlier in the season, there would be room to praise Wall and not really worry about the lack of team success in the first half, but the Wizards are fighting for a favorable playoff seed with just seven games left in the season. The amount of space available for error is little to none, and Wall not being totally back is understandable, but it hurts.

Coach Brooks was asked after the game what he said at halftime to motivate the team, and his answer was right up John Wall’s alley: more speed, more pace.

“I just said we have to play faster on offense. We were a little too slow in that second quarter and a lot to do with it was our defense early in that second quarter. We gave them a lot of easy looks and we were taking everything out of the basket and putting them on the free throw line and we couldn’t get there all night.”

(Photo by Kent Smith/NBAE via Getty Images)

The first two minutes of the third quarter, Wall not only proved that he was a good listener, but also that he has some takeover in him—or as Vince Vaughn’s character said in the movie Swingers, he was money and ready to party.

First Wall trotted up the court and found Otto Porter wide-open under the basket. Porter missed the shot, but an overzealous Dwight Howard blocked the shot on the way down, and it counted as two points.  And just like that, the Wizards were up one.

After missed pull-up jumper by Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Wall ran up the court slightly faster than he had during the previous break, took one dribble in the paint, and then fired a hard one-hand cross court pass to a wide-open Bradley Beal, who nailed the 3-point shot. The lead was now four.

The Hornets missed yet again, and this time Wall caught the outlet pass at half court, and passed it forward to Gortat, who treated the ball like a hot potato and immediately found Beal open yet again. Beal hit the 3-point shot, Wall got the hockey assist, and the Wizards were now up seven.

Prior to the Hornets/Wizards game, Coach Steve Clifford credited his team’s dominance over the Wizards this season to good, timely shooting. That accurate shooting touch eluded the Hornets in this third quarter, and after Nicolas Batum missed yet another shot—their fifth consecutive miss in the first 90 seconds of the third quarter—Wall took yet another outlet pass from Porter was on the run again. This time he kept the ball and took a pull-up jumper that missed. But Gortat tapped the rebound to half court, where Wall picked it up, faked a drive and then threw another one-hand pass to a wide-open Beal (again) for his third 3 in less than two minutes.

The crowd went wild, an exasperated Steve Clifford called timeout, the Wizards players high-fived en route to the bench, up 61-51. The Hornets reduced the lead to six points a few minutes later, but for the majority of the second half, they were down double digits and they never recover from that two minutes run that Wall led.

Wall’s shot wasn’t yet clicking, but he increased the pace, he used his speed to get where he wanted to go on the floor, and once he got there, he was finding open teammates and allowing them to eat uninterrupted. And unlike in the first half, when his positive plays were not translating to team success, the Wizards went from down one to up 11, thanks to Wall’s wizardry. In other words, it took about 45 minutes, but John Wall is officially back.

But for good measure, in case of doubters, Wall decided to break out his signature move—that change-of-direction dribble—at the expense of rookie Malik Monk, and the end result was a three-point play:

The Wizards won 107-93, but it’s just one game—one game against an ineffective Hornets team that did not get an A+ effort from All-Star Kemba Walker (3-of-9 and just seven points). As for the D.C.’s leading All-Star, Coach Brooks says Wall will not play tomorrow nor will he play any back-to-backs before the playoffs begin, which means the Wizards could still be consistently inconsistent until the playoffs begin. But at least now Brooks, his staff, and the players on the floor now know that their point guard is healthy, effective and able to get them easy shots and victories.

Now they can properly prepare for a deep playoff run and begin the process of resembling the team that fell just short of the Eastern Conference Finals last year.

 

 

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Rashad Mobley
Reporter/Writer at TAI
Rashad has been covering the NBA and the Washington Wizards since 2008—his first two years were spent at Hoops Addict before moving to Truth About It. Rashad has appeared on ESPN and college radio, SportsTalk on NewsChannel 8 in Washington D.C., and his articles have appeared on ESPN TrueHoop, USAToday.com, Complex Magazine, and the DCist. He considers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar a hero and he had the pleasure of interviewing him back in 2009.